June 24, 2016 – Yesterday was an amazing day in the history of Great Britain and potentially a disastrous one: Great Britain voted to leave the European Union. If we’re smart, it gives us a glimpse at what happens when a leader becomes mistakenly overconfident in his influence and woefully underestimates the emotional state of his country as a result.
Prime Minister David Cameron allowed his ego to intervene and called for a referendum vote on whether to remain in the EU or leave it. The referendum was unnecessary because he had the votes to block the initiative in Parliament. However, he took the unnecessary risk to put it to a vote to squash the movement once and for all. Unfortunately, he underestimated the xenophobic fever the proponents of the Brexit movement could raise.
Does the Brexit movement sound familiar? Can you name another nation with a candidate who is trying to create a political movement based upon xenophobic fears; someone who is trying to build a wall between his people and “their” people; someone who can trump Cameron on the issue of ego and certainly surpass him for stupidity? I think I can.
While emotion carried the vote, reality will rule the impact. In that regard, Great Britain better brace itself for an economic downturn that could have been avoided.
The British Pound was devalued immediately and hit a 30-year low. This means Great Britain’s citizens are more impoverished today than they were yesterday. Their buying power was instantly reduced on a global basis.
Markets around the world also plummeted based upon the economic uncertainty the results of the referendum caused. However, they will rebound well before the British economy does because they can spread the risk. Great Britain doesn’t have that luxury. It has further isolated itself from world markets and has built a barrier to trading.
As George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” I would offer China as an example to our friends across the Atlantic.
China practiced economic isolationism until it almost destroyed the country. It only rebounded when it opened its economic borders and expanded trade. China truly became an economic power when it joined the International Monetary Fund. That spurred the creation of jobs, improved productivity, and dramatically increased exports. Yesterday’s vote took Great Britain in the opposite direction.
Our country may soon have a similar choice. We are currently confronted with a presidential candidate who believes in limiting trade, limiting immigration, and in effect, limiting progress. Let’s hope he isn’t elected on a basis of his ability to enflame the worst fears of the electorate.
In any case, I intend to represent Florida in the United States Senate and provide a rational voice with respect to the direction of our country. Rather than replicate Great Britain’s mistake, we need to build bridges rather than walls and open our borders and minds to progressive ideas that can create jobs, improve education, and reassert our position as the most admired country in the world.
Those are my thoughts. What are yours?
(Please feel free to express you opinion below. My only request is that you do so rationally rather than emotionally and in a civil manner that respects the rights of others to disagree.)